The Ministry of the Few or the Ministry of the Pew?

How are you going to minister this coming Lord’s Day? Teach Sunday School? Be a greeter? Usher? Preach? That’s great if you’re involved in one of those activities, but if you add up the pastor, elders, deacons and all of the Sunday School teachers, greeters, and ushers, that’s still a relatively small percentage of the average congregation. It’s the ministry of the few.

So how are YOU going to minister?

Have you considered the ministry of the pew? The ministry of the pew, you say? What’s that? It’s a way to use where you sit at church as a means to serve others.

Years ago my parents attended a church, found a pew, and sat down only to be approached by a couple informing them that Mom and Dad were in their pew. These folks obviously had their favorite place to sit and were not happy sitting anywhere else. I can understand that. I always like to sit to the left of a speaker. I don’t know why. There’s no good reason; it has just become a habit. But do you think about and even pray about where you sit in church? All of us should.

Colin Marshall was once challenged about where he sat and why. He wrote, “Some years ago a pastor, Ray Ewers, instructed me in the finer art of how to walk into church. To most people, this might appear to be a rather basic accomplishment requiring little or no tutelage. Perhaps a family with five toddlers would appreciate some advice, but most of us would never give it a thought. Ray’s instruction was very brief: ‘Pray about where you sit’.

Praying seemed like a great way to walk into church, better than grumbling about the full car park or feeling annoyed that the first hymn, ‘Tell Out My Soul’, was sung to Tidings and not Woodlands. But of all the things to pray about, why should I be concerned with seating position? After all, I sit in my pew every week.

Ray’s advice was based on a particular view of church. He saw church as a place where Christians go to work. Church is a gathering of God’s people to hear his word and respond in faith and obedience. In this gathering, we are in fellowship with each other, through the blood of Jesus, and, because of our fellowship, we seek to serve each other. We use our gifts and abilities to strengthen one another and build Christ’s Church—‘edification’ is the word often used to describe what goes on in church. All believers are involved in building the church, not just clergy or preachers. The New Testament consistently teaches that in the growth of the body of Christ each part must do its work (see Eph 4; 1 Cor 12-14). Because of this, we aren’t to see ourselves merely as part of an organization called ‘St Hubert’s Church’, but as servants of God’s people, eager to meet the needs of others even if it means sacrificing our own.”

While I have one caveat regarding Colin’s article (I don’t believe we need to change traditional-style services to make people feel comfortable), his emphasis is “spot on.”

Will you pray about where you sit this coming Sunday? I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to read the rest of the article and learn some strategic ways to serve the Lord on his day. Don’t leave ministry to the few. Get involved in the ministry of the pew!

For Colin Marshall’s complete article, click here.

One Response to “The Ministry of the Few or the Ministry of the Pew?”

  1. Nate Phinney says:

    Thanks Rhett.

    The Marshall quotation reminded me of something I read a few weeks ago. If I may, here it is:

    “To say ‘I am going to church’ both reveals and promotes bad theology. In the earliest days of Christianity, ‘the church’ was a living and vibrant gathering of God’s people, who met together to be strengthened and then went out into the world to maifest the gospel in thier actions and their very beings….

    “…We are NOT ‘going to church’! We are going to a -sanctuary- to participate in an -order of worship- together with other -people of God- gathered in -community-, to be nourished by all that we do there together so that we can go out into the world and -be church-.”

    Marva J. Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting (emphases are from the author).

    This quotation was convicting to me because I think that far too often I find myself ‘going to church.’ Anyway, thanks again for your post.